After Zodiac Sign, NASA Changes Time, Adds Leap Second To Master Clock

Science
After Zodiac Sign, NASA Changes Time, Adds Leap Second To Master Clock Astronomical Clock in Prague Abhijeet Rane / Flickr CC

When NASA reportedly altered the Zodiac sign, the online world went abuzz. Although the agency later clarified the reports, it nevertheless updated time when it added a second leap to the Master Clock.

It can be recalled that the agency received queries after Cosmopolitan insinuated that NASA has altered the Zodiac chart. This time, NASA hit the headlines anew with another trailblazing announcement.

Official Clocks Updated

On New Year, official clocks all over the world updated the time by adding a leap second right before hitting midnight Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Together with the universal update, all missions of NASA also updated their respective clocks.

One of NASA’s missions that have adjusted their official clocks is the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which closely monitors the Sun’s movement around the clock. Dean Pesnell, project scientists at NASA’s SDO, explained how the updated time affects the mission’s operation.

“SDO moves about 1.9 miles every second. So does every other object in orbit near SDO. We all have to use the same time to make sure our collision avoidance programs are accurate. So we all add a leap second to the end of 2016, delaying 2017 by one second,” Pesnell said in a statement released Friday.

Regular Clock Calibration

According to NASA, official clocks are regularly calibrated to keep up with the Earth’s rotation. This is because the Earth’s rotation slows down gradually as time goes by. Before, some million years ago, it only takes around 23 hours for the Earth to complete a full rotation around the Sun.

The SDO, NASA noted, needs to update its clock to keep it in sync with the UTC. Unlike the Eastern Standard Time (EST) or Pacific Standard Time, which are Time Zones, UTC is standard time, website TimeAndDate noted.

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